I've run through this before when I recommended The Bad Popes by ER Chamberlin for the readers here. You should still be able to find it for purchase somewhere on this page. It looks like a blog called Odee has tried to compile its own list.
I call foul. Stephen VI as the worst? Really? I don't care what anybody says, that whole Cadaver Synod thing is one of my favorite stories from Church history. It's the perfect example of the Church's divine consitution. As Pius VII told Napoleon, if the popes over the years weren't bad enough to destroy the Church, then Bonaparte didn't stand a chance.
I'm going to plug Chamberlin's book again, if for no other reason than it corrects a lot of the exaggeration and polemic directed against guys like Alexander VI. My personal pick for the worst is Benedict IX. They called it The Pornocracy for good reasons, and this guy embodies most of them.
I'm willing to bet that the folks who compiled the list aren't Catholic. Innocent IV and John XV was real stretches here, especially when you've got guys who jeopardized doctrine with their weakness (yeah, I'm looking at you, Honorius). When you consider that the main job of the pope is to shepherd the Universal Church, these types should be much higher on the list. Even saints can make for bad popes, as St. Celestine V showed us. This is more a listing of bad guys who happened to be pope (except maybe Clement, who is down at #10), rather than bad popes.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Posted by Throwback at 5:09 PM